Selective Focus Effect


Another hot look in photography today comes from the use of selective focus. Whether you use hardware or software to achieve the effect, it’s sure to be stunning if you use it right. Today we’ll explore a little bit of each of the two methods.

Selective focus lenses are what photographers use on the camera to get the look they are going for. Some of the most popular lenses in use today are the ones from the folks at Lensbaby. These lenses can be moved and/or rotated to make a small part of your subject in focus, while gradually taking the rest of the photo out of focus. These lenses vary in price, but usually aren’t unreasonable if you are really into this type of photography.

On the software side of things, you’re going to at least need Photoshop to be able to nail this effect. First, duplicate your layer so you’re working non-destructively. Next, go under the Filter menu and select Gaussian Blur. Use a value like 20 pixels and click Ok. Then you can Command-Click (Alt-Click on PC) on the Layer Mask icon to cover up the blur you just added. Then you can select White as your Foreground color and paint with a soft brush using the Brush tool. This is the method I used for the photo above.

Another software method involves the use of Photoshop plug-ins, like Alien Skin’s Bokeh and OnOne Software’s Focal Point. These make the process of adding selective focus to a photo incredibly simple for those who don’t have the time or Photoshop skills to go the manual route. To get your photos looking really good, the manual route takes a good bit of time.

A great example of some great selective focus work is that of NY Times photographer Vincent Laforet. Check out some of his shots to see how he uses selective focus and what it adds to his shots.

That’s it for today. Come back tomorrow to wrap up the week and head into the weekend! Have a great day!


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